How We Plan for Projects
My wife and I do projects frequently. If you have been reading this blog long, that is probably obvious. We constantly have a project or two on the schedule. In order to work together properly, we need to not only be on the same page but also the same paragraph, sentence, and word. Sometimes we can do this by talking through our ideas. Most of the time it comes to drawing pictures until our gears click into place. But sometimes in order to really get on the same page as someone else, you have to build a model.
We have build tons of scale models throughout our marriage. Lego model layouts for deciding how we wanted to organize the building on the farm. Paper box models for imagining the playground before it went up. And a cardboard mockup of basically every building we have ever built together. Since we don't have access to CAD software at home these physical models serve to help establish a starting line for our projects. These models are by no means works of art but they give us enough information to quite literally see it from the other person's perspective. Plus, they are a fun way to spend extra time together.
Our models also help us make better parts lists and budget more accurately. Erin can usually predict the cost of a project (plus or minus 3%) by the time we have talked through our models and materials. And being able to get an entire project done without a second trip to the hardware store is a great feeling.
Once we have a budget and know we are working toward the same endpoint we then always designate a project manager (and by that I mean Erin). You can't solve problems democratically if you only have two people. Someone has to have the final word. Erin has a much better mind for construction and is better at looking at another person's viewpoint objectively. This makes it easy (for the most part) to work for her knowing that if I have a suggestion it will be considered.
When we neglect our planning phase, even on small projects, it almost always ends in us fighting over minor details. Erin and I both have very different internal design processes. This allows us to attack a problem from all angles when we are on the same page. When we are not on the same page it leads more to us attacking each other than those problems. A fifteen-minute project can turn into all-day problem if you are fighting with your partner instead of working with them. A common goal is good, but good is the enemy of great, and having the same goal is a great thing when working with anyone on anything.
People can do great things when working together. However, if you are not all trying to reach the same goal often you are just working against one another. Do what you have to get on the same page before you start a project, whether it is at work or at home. Even if that means spending an evening building a small version of your farm out of your daughter's legos. It will save you time, it will save you money, and you will enjoy working together more.
I hope this message finds you in good health and of a sound mind. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering ...
How did I end up Here?